Friday, January 30, 2015

Are Benefit Hoola and NYC Sunny really dupes?

 When I just got into contouring, the first product I heard about was Benefit’s Hoola bronzer. From this product I knew I wanted a matte product, but Hoola was too expensive for me at almost $30!
I searched around for dupes and the number one answer was NYC bronzer in Sunny. I got it, saw it was matte, and used it for several years until I was finally able to get Benefit Hoola for a good deal in the Box o’ Blushes.
So, for everyone interested, I decided to do a few swatches since these “dupe” lists never seem to have actual photos of swatches.
Sunny on left, Hoola on right

As you can see, when in the pan or swatched they are definitely different colors. Sunny is warmer, oranger and Hoola is darker and more neutral toned. Hoola is also smoother and Sunny is a bit rougher but still nice.
wearing Sunny

When blended out of the face it isn’t obvious, but Sunny gives a generally warmer look. For me, since I have a warm skin tone, Sunny works well. If you are cool toned, Sunny may look weird. Hoola will be better on cool skin tones.
wearing Hoola

Overall, these are both good products, but one might be better than the other depending on your skin tone.  I like Hoola better because Sunny can sometimes make me look tan, which is not the look I want, just contoured. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review and Swatch: Lipstick Queen Butterfly Ball Lipstick in Sigh

Recently I purchased a lipstick off Ebay, and I have to say I’m always lucky about the quality, and authenticity, of products I but off of that site. This lipstick was no exception. What I bought was a lipstick from the brand Lipstick Queen. I have never bought from this brand since it is pretty pricy ($24 for this lipstick), but since I had an ebay gift card and someone was selling this item for $10 I jumped on it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

An Analysis of Agent Peggy Carter's Hair in "Agent Carter"

If you have not yet seen Agent Carter and are at all interested in the Marvel Universe, action movies, 40's post war america, or like, good television, then you must check it out. The story centers around Agent Peggy Carter (from Captain America) and how she deals with her new post-war life in America and Captain America's death. This is a really good portrayal of women's lives in the 1940's as it doesn't try to hide the amount of misogyny inherent in this period.
On a lighter note, this show is also very good at showing accurate, or mostly accurate, 40's hairstyles and clothing which many period dramas just fudge to fit modern tastes. While I haven't seen any blaring chartreuse yet, I'm impressed my the seemingly accurate 40's hair. It's very curly, but not always perfect. in fact, Peggy's is often just gone to waves after a hard day of fighting crime. And, in episode 3, we see Peggy in actual pin curls which I haven't seem portrayed in modern television except for "Call the Midwife." So, needless to say, I set to analyzing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Recipe: Steamed Christmas Pudding

I have to say in some ways I am very traditional. I love holiday traditional the most; if I could make my entire house look like a Victorian Christmas right out of a Dickens novel I would. Unfortunately, candles on tress are a fire hazard and my mom hates the smell of mulled wine, so I have to go with small steps. This year it was Christmas pudding.  Christmas pudding, also known as plum pudding, is a traditional British steamed cake very much like a fruit cake. In a Christmas Carol, when they take out the mound like cake and stick holly in it; that is this.
Firstly I needed a recipe, and I wanted a very uncomplicated one, so I actually combined a few. The basic recipe is:
500 grams of dried fruit (I used apricots, cranberries, raisins, and currents. Chop the large fruit into bits)
A few tablespoons of candied orange peel
2 T whiskey (or brandy or what have you)
125 g. flour
125 g. sugar
150 g. fresh breadcrumbs (I chopped stale bread and wizzed it in the blender)
Handful chopped pecans
1 egg
150 ml milk
2 tsp spice (cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice or whatever you like)
125 g. shredded shortening (freeze a block of vegetable shortening and then grate)
This recipe is super customizable. Add whatever fruit you want; add a chopped fresh apple even. Add orange zest and juice, leave out the spice etc. I honestly do not think you can screw this up.
To make it simply add all the ingredients together. I recommend the fruit and flour first and then the wet ingredients, but it doesn’t matter.
When combined, add to a pudding mold that had been greased with butter and sprinkled in sugar. I do not have a pudding mold so instead I used a very steep sided metal mixing bowl.
Then, take a piece of parchment paper cut just an inch bigger than the shape of the bowl opening and place on top. Then, take a piece of aluminum foil and crimp it around. You can also make a fold in the foil in case the pudding needs to expand. Then, tie a piece of string around it to hold it call in place. You can also make a little handle with string to make it easier to remove from the steamer.

How to steam:
This pudding needs to be steamed, not baked. To do this you can either use a proper steamer, a pot of water with a few inches of water and an upside down saucer to keep the bowl from touching the pot bottom or you can use a spaghetti pot.
A spaghetti pot is simply a put with an attached and removable strainer. So, I put the bowl in the strainer part, Filled up the pot with water until it  reaches half-way up the bowl and set onto a simmer for about three hours with the lid on.  This way you do not have to worry about topping up the water because the pot had like 10 cups of water in it at this point.
When done; I removed and replaced the paper, foil, and string, so no extra water would be sitting with the pudding until it was ready to eat.
Do this at least a week ahead of time!
Traditionally a Christmas pudding can be made up to a year in advance. I recommend a week or so (I did 10 days) to give the flavors time to combined.

When the day comes to eat your pudding, simply re-steam for another hour so it can be fully cooked and warm. Let cool for a few minutes, and then upturn onto a plate. Top with powdered sugar.

This is a delicious cake. It’s like a fruit cake but spongier and light. My father especially loved it and I can see making it again!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review and Swatch: Makeup Forever for Sephora Birthday Gift

Every Year Sephora gives out birthday gifts to those part of their Beauty  Insider program. Last year it was a deluxe sample of Benefit’s Watt’s Up highlighter and They’re Real! Mascara. This year  (2014) the gift is from Makeup Forever (MUFE) and it’s a deluxe sample of their Rouge Natural lipstick in N9 and their Smokey Extravagant mascara.

First let’s start off with the packaging and what a “deluxe sample” means in this case. The two products come in a cute cardboard box with “Happy Birthday!” written on it with a bow. The details on the box and quite intricate (the top looks like it has hinges!) which I really appreciate. Each product is in a black plastic case and looks like a smaller version of the full sized product. The mascara has the same brush as the bigger size and the lipstick is in a twist up tube as per normal. The size of the lipstick is 1.5 g/ 0.05 oz. A full sized wet n wild lipstick is 3.3 g/ 0.11 oz and the full sized mufe lippy is 0.12 oz. So the sample is a little less than ½ sized (it’s 41.6% of the full sized) making it ~$8.5 worth of lipstick. The mascara is 4ml/0.13 oz of product. The CK ONE mascara is 0.31 oz and the full sized of this product is .23 oz and Sephora also sells a mini at .16 oz. So you are getting a little more than half of a mascara (~56.8 %) and only .03 oz less than the mini! The mini runs at $12 and the full at $24 so you have about $12 of mascara!

So now that all of the math is done let’s get to the products…
MUFE Rough natural in N9 is described as a “copper pink” it is a warm toned brown pink that looks very natural (and a bit more red than pink) on my lips. It goes on smoothly and evenly without being too slick and sliding around. It goes on opaque the first coat; it has a shiny crème finish which is very natural and flattering. This is a good lipstick and a good formula.

MUFE Smoky Extravagant mascara is “What it is:
A precision mascara that adds volume, length, and curl. 

What it does:
This clump-free mascara delivers long-lasting wear in one stroke. Using 4D technology, an exclusive microdefining wax complex envelopes the lash surface in ultrablack pigments for far-away impact and up-close precision. The dual-purpose, cone-shaped brush has a precision tip that separates lashes as the rounded base creates extravagant volume from any distance.”
The brush is an exaggerated cone shape which I think is supposed to get to the center of your eye and the  big part for the outside, but since I do not switch hands when applying is just annoying for me. This mascara does nothing to curl my lashes; as soon as I apply this all the curl from my curler disappears. It does not add a lot of volume or thickness to my lashes. It doesn’t clump or flake though. Overall, it is a disappointment and does nothing for me.
My favorite part of this set is the lipstick which I can see wearing until it runs out which hopefully will take a while considering it’s about half a full lipstick and I haven’t gone through any of my lipsticks yet. The mascara was a disappointment, but not many mascaras work for me; the Benefit one from last year didn’t work for me either.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Food Review: Silk Choconut Smoothie

On the back of my Silk Coconut almond milk was this recipe so I decided to give it a whirl and it was actually good! I have the image of the original recipe below but I also recommend blending in some honey or sweetener because I find it needs it. I also substituted the almond butter for peanut butter.

This is a great calcium and protein rich smoothie idea for breakfasts and snacks. I find a chocolate smoothie or shake to be good when I want to shake up my usual fruit based smoothie routine. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Review and Swatch: E.L.F. High Definition Powder

my new and old powders; apologies for the mess

Lately I’ve wanted to wear less powder, or at least finer powder. In the summer especially thick powders can look cakey and settle more easily into the lines of the face. My l’oreal true match powder foundation does this even after I’m sure to swipe away any excess. My Palladio rice powder is better, but over the last couple of years “HD” powders have become a hit so I decided to check one out.
The most well know HD powder is Make up Forever’s (MUFE). This powder goes for $34 for just 0.3 ounces! What exotic ingredients make it cost this much? Just one: silica. HD powder is just pure silica. Since MUFE is out of my price range I decided on a cheaper alternative: E.L.F.’s High definition powder. It’s ingredients? Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer and silica. What is Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer? Well, it’s just a fancy word for silica (at least according to google.) So, this means that ingredient wise both powders are the same, except one charges $34 for 0.3 oz. and one charges $6 for 0.28 oz.

The packaging for this product is also nice especially considering the cost. The powder comes in a sleek, black, square shaped box. This box has a secure screw top lid (don’t try to pry the lid straight off like I did!) and inside it contains a powder puff, a sifter, and a plastic seal. This seal keeps the loose powder from going all over the container. For future travel, I will tape the sifter closed. I didn’t have any trouble though, with the seal being taken off and reapplied a dozen times when traveling. The powder puff feels soft, thick, and plush. This feels higher quality than the ones I used to buy from the drugstore. It also comes with a strap so you can hold it with the tips of your fingers. I will not apply with the puff because I think it will be messier than a brush and apply a thicker layer.  I will keep it though for other applications.
The powder itself appears white, but when buffed into the skin goes translucent. I am very pale so I do not know if this will make someone with a darker skin tone appear grey tinted. The powder is extremely finely ground, finer than my rice powder and that’s not exactly coarse. When applied to the skin it makes the area feel smoother, almost velvety. It also removes any sign of oil. It doesn’t just sit on the skin though; it melts with your foundation creating a skin like texture that is able to take cream products without problems.
One problem some people have with certain HD powders is a “flashback” effect. This refers to a white cast on the face that only appears after flash photography is used. I first took a flash photo without any powder, and then one after powder. Neither showed any flashback! So, if you use this powder to set like I did, you should experience no flash back problems!

Overall, I am very happy with this product! This loose powder applies well and leaves a soft, velvety finish in its wake. It does not settle into lines even in the heat of summer and causes no white marks to show in photography. In addition it only costs $6 and yet is exactly the same as a $34 one. What more could you want? I love this powder even after months of use and have already bought a new one even though I
still have a good amount of powder.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: The Body Shop Body Butter in Honeymania

A few weeks ago The Body Shop was doing a sale online for 40% off all items and free shipping which is the deal I didn’t know I was waiting for! I’ve been curious about the body shop but it is a bit too expensive for me. Everyone says they often have sales in stores, but I do not have one near me to go in. Since I hate paying shipping (usually with sales it would be cheaper to just buy a full priced product in store than buy it on sale with shipping) this was perfect.
I also am not a fan of most Body Shop scents since I hate “food” smells and I find their Moringa scent to be too strong and their rose scent to smell weird. Looking through the site I found this scent I had never heard of “Honeymania” which from the reviews didn’t smell like honey and instead like honey suckle. This sounded perfect! I bought the small travel size on sale for $3.60 plus tax.
It got to me in about four days and I couldn’t be happier with the scent. I do not know if it’s exactly honeysuckle but it’s a sweet, light, floral scent that I love and yet can’t exactly describe.
The body butter texture is really thick and almost solid; it’s thicker than any other body butter I’ve tried. I really like it and it moisturizes very well without being greasy. I like this texture and this scent so much that I might have to travel an hour to get this in a larger size when there’s a sale of if this sale ever comes again online.  I now understand the hype of this product and I just fell in love with this scent.

My only sight disappointment is the size: it’s only 50 ml. In comparison a Bath and Body works sample lotion bottle contains 59 ml. and when comparing the prices (BS is $3.80 normally $6 and BBW is $3.50) it is also pretty expensive.
Note: The BBW cost and size is based on the one’s I own. According to their website their travel size is now 88ml and costs $5.

Overall I really love both the sent and the texture/consistency of the Body Shop Body Butter in Honeymania.  I am interested in trying more things from this honey-infused line. I do not know if this is permanent or limited edition; the website doesn’t say LE but I haven’t heard of the scent before now.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Mascara Review: Maybelline The Rocket Volum’ Express

My absolute favorite mascara is one from the drugstore: Maybelline’s The Rocket. I had thought I had written a review of this product, but it appears that I haven’t so today I will remedy this.
The Rocket mascara has medium length thin silicone bristles that really separate and cover all of my lashes. It really combs through instead of just getting the outside of my lashes. The color is also really black and doesn’t flake or smudge at all on me. I also find it dries fairly quickly on the lashes so there is no transfer onto my eyelid or finger when applying eyeliner.
My lashes are really straight but this is the only mascara that keeps them curled. The waterproof formula is the absolute best for this, but even the washable formula does this better than any other mascara!

Overall, the formula is ideal for me, the brush is my favorite type, and it costs less than $8 from the drugstore. It is my holy grail mascara, better than Benefit’s They’re Real!, CK One mascara or an innumerable amount of drugstore mascaras.  If you haven’t tried this yet, go get this as your next mascara, especially if you have limp lashes like me.
Note: The one tube (the open one) was given to me by Vocalpoint but this does not effect my review. The packaged one was bought by myself along with many other tubes!